Have you ever wondered, “What is God’s work?” This message is for those who seek to understand the nature of God’s work and its significance. How does the Bible provide insight into this question, and what are the benefits and outcomes associated with engaging in God’s work? Stay tuned for the forthcoming answer.
The Gospel of John reveals that the essence of God’s work is “to believe in the one God has sent.” The work that God wants us can’t be determined by our jobs or specific tasks. As a pastor, I hold a strong conviction that my pastoral position is truly the work of God. However, while continuing in my pastoral role, I recognize that the essence of God’s work can be influenced by my mindset and eventually may transform into a human work.
God expects us to believe in Jesus. This is the fundamental expectation for all of us. Who is Jesus in the context of John Ch. 6? Yes, he is heavenly manna. He came down from heaven. In St. John’s theological concept, “World” multiple meanings. One of the meanings represents a state of complete separation from God. It embodies an absence of heavenly teachings, wisdom, love, joy, and peace. It symbolizes the tragic experience of the first murder committed by Cain against his younger brother Abel after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Following the murder, Cain departed from the presence of God and dwelt in the land of Nod, which means “wandering.” Nod is not only a geographical location but also a metaphorical expression for Cain and his descendants, who chose to live apart from God as worldly lifestyle.
Let’s examine the Gospel of John to illustrate the pursuit of worldly desires. In this context, we witness a crowd following Jesus after witnessing the miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two fishes. What motivated them to follow Jesus? Their pursuit was driven by earthly desires. Why did they choose to follow Jesus? It was because they believed He would provide them with food continually. The power that captivated and influenced them was the miraculous provision of free food, accomplished through divine intervention.
When Jesus observes this, what does He say? He admonishes them, saying, “Do not work for perishable things like food.” There is nothing inherently wrong with seeking and asking for our daily sustenance. However, when people become consumed by the relentless pursuit of material sustenance, their lives become empty and devoid of meaning.
So are we. We are called to examine ourselves through the attitude of the unwise crowd in John 6. Instead of tirelessly toiling only for immediate sustenance, let us maintain our faith that God will provide our daily bread. If we lose this faith, we will also begin to work for perishable things. This state of mind ultimately shapes our belief system. The beliefs that reside within us possess the power to propel us into action. Whether these beliefs are founded on erroneous or righteous foundations, they profoundly shape our will and determination.
The people who witnessed the miracle of five loaves and two fish faced a challenge in their faith. They mistakenly placed their faith primarily in the provision of food, failing to grasp that food served as a means to point them towards a deeper belief.
It is important for us to recognize that food, along with material possessions such as luxury cars, are merely instruments for highlighting God’s grace and blessings. They should not be objects of worship or adoration but rather reminders of the abundant blessings bestowed upon us. It is crucial to maintain a balanced perspective, understanding the true purpose of these provisions in our lives.
God desires for us to understand, encounter, and actively pursue eternal matters. And what could be more eternal and unchanging than divine love? I used to harbor a deep fear that God might eventually abandon me due to my sinful nature. However, in the midst of that fear, God made a promise to me: He would never forsake me. Remarkably, that same God faithfully keeps His promise each and every day. I am blessed to experience God’s grace consistently. It manifests in various ways: through unwavering assurance, comforting and uplifting words, or even through visions that vividly convey His love for me. It is truly remarkable to witness the sweet grace of God pouring down from the heavens whenever I pray. The holy presence of the Holy Spirit, emanating from heaven, is a powerful force. The God who fills me with divine and sacred blessings on a daily basis is also at work within you today.
Through the indwelling of Christ within us, we are empowered to fulfill God’s work with astounding might. Christ Himself exemplified a life lived in complete alignment with God’s will during His earthly sojourn. He embodied the perfect performance of God’s ways on earth. God calls us to the time of prayer and Bible study. Let’s fill us with heavenly wisdom and understanding through the time of prayers and Bible study on Sunday.
Moreover, let us seize every opportunity to assist those around us, both within and outside our faith community. Even within our own congregation, there may be individuals who require support and aid. Let us be a source of encouragement, solace, and practical assistance to one another, addressing each other’s needs. As an example, I have encountered a family currently residing in a shelter. Our church has a unique chance to serve them and extend our support to them. Let us actively embrace this opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ in their lives.
Let me wrap up today’s message. God’s work will fill us with heavenly grace, wisdom, and love through our faith in Christ. It involves living on earth in a manner that mirrors the life of Jesus, empowered by His divine presence. If we embrace this way of living, what benefits and positive outcomes will it bring?
First and foremost, this heavenly lifestyle becomes our sustenance for eternity. Previously, we may have dwelled in the desolate land of wandering known as “Nod,” where our souls experienced emptiness and aimlessness. However, by adopting this divine path, we cease our futile wanderings and find ourselves returning to the metaphorical “Eden.” Within the Garden of Eden lies the tree of eternal life, and Christ Himself is that tree. By living in alignment with His life, we gain access to the eternal life that He offers. May the blessings of eternal life be bestowed upon you, your loved ones, and all those who walk this path from this moment forth, and may it endure eternally.
Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 21, 2023, John 6:28-29
Pastor John Kim, Lakeridge Lutheran Church